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Iran

Report Says U.S., Israel Targeted Iran With 'Flame' Virus

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak speaks during the International Cyber Security Conference at Tel Aviv University on June 6.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak speaks during the International Cyber Security Conference at Tel Aviv University on June 6.

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By RFE/RL
There's been no official reaction yet to a “Washington Post” report saying the United States and Israel jointly developed a computer virus called "Flame" aimed at disrupting Iran's nuclear program.

The June 19 report, citing Western officials, said the development of the malware, discovered last month on computers used by the Iranian Oil Ministry, began five years ago.

The report said the U.S. National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency worked with Israel’s military on the project.

The report said the malware, described as the most sophisticated cyberweapon to be exposed to date, penetrated targeted computers by posing as a Microsoft software update.

The report says the program monitored Iran’s computer network, sending information back to its controllers about what the computers did, including copying documents, logging keystrokes, taking screen shots, and even activating computer microphones and cameras.

'Preparing The Battlefield'

According to the report, the “Flame” virus was designed to collect intelligence “in preparation for cybersabotage aimed at slowing Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon.”

The campaign included the use of destructive software such as the "Stuxnet" worm, which was discovered in 2010 and designed to cause malfunctions in Iran’s uranium-enrichment operation.

"The Washington Post" quoted one former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official as saying, "This is about preparing the battlefield for another type of covert action."

“Cybercollection against the Iranian program is way further down the road" than just “Flame” and “Stuxnet,” the former official added.

Unilateral Operation

“Flame” came to light after Iran detected a series of cyberattacks against its oil industry.

According to a number of U.S. and Western officials quoted in the report, this disruption was directed by Israel in a unilateral operation that apparently caught its U.S. partners off-guard.

The Russian-based security company Kaspersky Lab reported last week that “Flame” contained some of the same code as “Stuxnet.”

This overlap was described as evidence that the teams responsible for the two sets of malware worked together.

Recently, a “New York Times” investigation, based on interviews with U.S., European, and Israeli officials, had singled out the United States as being responsible for “Stuxnet.” But it also said the cyberweapon had been developed in cooperation with Israel.

The disclosure about the malware follows this week's failure in Moscow of the latest round of talks between Iran and six world powers -- including the United States -- over the Iranian nuclear program and Iran's refusal to halt uranium-enrichment work that could be directed toward development of an atomic weapon.

Iran denies allegations it is pursuing a nuclear weapon.

With reporting by "The Washington Post," dpa, AFP, and Reuters
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by: Jack from: US
June 20, 2012 22:26
again US government and its proxy Israel, Axis of Evil are engaged in self-destructive pattern of behavior against imaginary enemy - Iran, while US soldiers are being killed by Wahhabi Sunni activists financed by Saudi Arabia and harbored by Pakistan. Pakistan gets US aid while developing nuclear weapons and harboring terrorists. That's how twisted the policies of US government are. The only explanation to this apparent irrationality is that the main enemy of US government is not Al Qaeda, not even Iran, not even Russia. The main enemy of US government are freedom-conscient American people of European descent. US government wants to take away the remaining few liberties they have. By instigating and supporting terrorism US government instills fear and insecurity in US population and forces Americans to accept more and more reduction in their freedoms, via various "Patriot acts", "wartime necessity".

by: Sey from: World
June 21, 2012 01:18
As if they're gonna come out and say "Yes guys, we did it. Watcha gon' do 'bout it.?"

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
June 22, 2012 05:00
Interestingly enough: after all these months of empty threats to "attack Iran with the use of military facilities located in Azerbaijan", all the US and Israel are capable of is launching a computer virus - which was pretty soon detected and neutralized by Russian IT specialists.
If you, guys, continue promoting the end of the "regime of Mullahs" at this paste further, I am afraid you will not have enough time to achieve the desired result before your imminent bankruptcy :-).
In Response

by: William from: Aragon
June 22, 2012 07:40
Not to mention the following "regime change" in the US by the American people. Arab Spring, American Fall.

by: Vakhtang from: Moscow
June 22, 2012 07:22
The best anti-Iranian virus is massive air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.
Possession of nuclear weapons by Iranian fanatics is the same as to give nuclear weapons to Somali pirates,both are going to blackmail and to benefit from the possession of the atomic bomb.
Unfortunately the Iranian fanatics understand only the language of force, so any persuasion and negotiation with them, it's a waste of time...